Traveling today, so a quick follow up on the post below. Heard back from a U.S. official who knows about these things. (Yes, I know that’s vague sourcing, but we’ll have to live with it.)
The bullet points from that conversation:
1) Surprised they didn’t do this sooner. General McKiernan had good people around him, but didn’t have a Petraeus/Ordierno-like Brain Trust.
2) This shows that General Petraeus/Ambassador Holbrooke are in charge on Af/Pak. Really in charge.
3) James Jones at the NSC isn’t. NSC doesn’t even have staff yet, and has a few duds. (Though accounts, like this one in RS, would differ.)
4) General McChrytsal is “innovative” etc., Special Ops community likes him, and COIN folks like him.
5) Concern about McC: Special Ops have been running wild and “unchecked” in Afghanistan “so it’s more power for them.” A comprehensive COIN approach, not more focus on Special Ops is needed.
6)What they did do McKiernan was “dirty” though. He’d moved close to Obama but that, in the end, didn’t preserve him. Gates et al should have given him the option of resignation versus public denouncement given that the man has served honorably for so long . But they needed the p.r. bump that comes from the “strong move of switching generals to win the war.”
Yes, I’d second the dirty part. When I interviewed McKiernan last fall, I found him to be an honorable, thoughtful yet heading knocking kind of guy and I think he deserved a better exit. Especially, as I noted earlier, he’s been on the right side of history before.
Any comments, insights, other articles/links that I haven’t seen, are welcome.